Kansas City Chiefs: Phillip Gaines

Today we’re continuing a series looking at the six 2014 draft picks of the Kansas City Chiefs. We’ll look at how they fared in offseason practice and what the Chiefs can reasonably expect from them as rookies.

Third round: CB Phillip Gaines

Offseason: One starting cornerback, Brandon Flowers, first was absent from offseason practice and later was released. The other, Sean Smith, was demoted to second team after a recent arrest for DUI. The leading candidate to be the nickelback, Chris Owens, missed many of the practice sessions because of a hamstring injury. So the Chiefs were begging for cornerbacks but still didn’t give Gaines a look with the starters. But Gaines, at 6-foot and about 190 pounds, at least looks the part. He has the size and the long arms the Chiefs are looking for in a cornerback.

Expectations: That the Chiefs, in need of corners, passed over Gaines for journeymen or developmental prospects in spring practice suggests they believe he is a project. It’s far too early to count him out, particularly if the Chiefs continue to have a need. If he improves in camp, the opportunity for playing time will probably be there. At this point, though, it appears his main contribution will come on special teams.

Quote: “As a competitor, you always want to play against the best because that’s how you test yourself. You can’t test yourself going against just regular players. Peyton Manning, being one of the best quarterbacks of all time, I can’t wait to go against people like him and just watching him play throughout his whole career understanding how he approaches the game, it’s going to be an honor to play against him. To go against the best, I can’t wait. That really tests your skill and I can’t wait to do that.” -- Gaines.
Here’s another installment of our detailed look at the Kansas City Chiefs roster by position with a determination whether they improved or not since the end of last season. Keep in mind that the Chiefs can continue to make roster moves and could make significant additions or subtractions before they arrive at training camp. But the bulk of the roster they will take to Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph is intact.

We’ll continue here with the cornerbacks.

End of 2013: Brandon Flowers, Sean Smith, Marcus Cooper, Ron Parker, Dunta Robinson.

Serious 2014 roster candidates: Flowers, Smith, Cooper, Parker, Phillip Gaines, Chris Owens.

Analysis: The Chiefs prefer bigger cornerbacks who can match up physically with the NFL’s bigger receivers. At 5-foot-9, Flowers doesn’t qualify. He didn’t play well last season, raising questions about how well-suited he is for the Chiefs and their preferred defensive style. The other starter is Smith, and he, Cooper, Parker and Gaines are 6-foot or taller. Owens is 5-foot-9 but he’s a veteran who will mostly cover slot receivers. Cooper, a rookie last season, started well but was horrible later in the season. Gaines, the third-round pick, is the major addition to this group. But after playing at Rice, he has an adjustment to make in moving to the NFL. He can certainly make it more quickly than this, but it’s wise to expect little from him as a rookie.

Better or worse? A tough call. I’m counting on an improved pass rush to make things better in coverage.
The contracts of two recently signed Kansas City Chiefs draft picks, third-round cornerback Phillip Gaines of Rice and fourth-round wide receiver/kick returner De'Anthony Thomas of Oregon, contain modest raises over those given to players selected in the same draft slots last year.

The contract signed by Gaines, the 87th pick in the draft, is for four years and worth $2,824,112. Included is a $549,112 signing bonus. That's more than the Seattle Seahawks gave last year to the 87th player drafted, linebacker Jordan Hill (four years, $2,764,140, signing bonus of $544,140).

Thomas was the 124th player drafted. His contract is four years and worth $2,665,108, including a signing bonus of $420,108. Last year the Houston Texans gave the 124th pick, defensive lineman Trevardo Williams, four years, $2,492,612 and a signing bonus of $407,612.

Also, the contract the Chiefs gave to veteran offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb was for one year at the veteran minimum. Webb will make a salary of $730,000 with no bonus if he makes the team but would count only $570,000 against the Chiefs' salary cap.
The Kansas City Chiefs signed one of their six draft picks, offensive lineman Zach Fulton of Tennessee. The Chiefs selected Fulton with the first of their two sixth-round choices.

Exact contract terms are yet unavailable. But Fulton was the 193rd pick of the draft and he could expect a contract similar to that of the 193rd pick last year, Green Bay Packers linebacker Nate Palmer. The Packers gave him a four-year deal worth $2,258,896. Included was a signing bonus of $98,896. That was the only guaranteed money in the contract.

Based on the contracts signed by players selected in the same draft spots last year, here’s what the other Chiefs’ picks should receive when they agree to their new deals:

OLB Dee Ford, Auburn, first round, No. 23 overall. Last year’s 23rd pick was Minnesota defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. He received a four-year contract worth $8,076,200. Included were guaranteed money of $6,569,900 and a signing bonus of $4,253,600.

CB Phillip Gaines, Rice, third round, No. 87 overall. Last year’s 87th pick was Seattle linebacker Jordan Hill. He received a four-year contract worth $2,764,140. His signing bonus was $544,140 was the only guaranteed money he received.

WR/KR De’Anthony Thomas, fourth round, No. 124 overall. Last year’s 124th pick was Houston defensive lineman Trevardo Williams. He received a four-year contract worth $2,492,612. His signing bonus of $407,612 was the only guaranteed money he received.

QB Aaron Murray, fifth round, No. 163 overall. Last year’s 163rd pick was Chicago offensive lineman Jordan Mills. He received a four-year contract worth $2,324,800. His signing bonus of $164,800 was the only guaranteed money he received.

OL Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, sixth round, No. 200 overall. Last year’s 200th pick was Baltimore defensive lineman Kapron Lewis-Moore. He received a four-year contract worth $2,248,232. His signing bonus of $88,232 was the only guaranteed money he received.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs' first pick in the draft was a pass-rusher, their second a pass defender. That's not a coincidence since they play in a division along with the passing games of the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers.

The Chiefs added Rice cornerback Philip Gaines in the third round Friday night, one day after selecting Auburn outside linebacker Dee Ford in the first. Both moves were made to bolster a defense that collapsed over the second half of last season and blew a 28-point third-quarter lead in a playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

While the selection of Ford was meant to complement incumbent pass-rushers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, the addition of Gaines serves notice to starter Brandon Flowers and third cornerback Marcus Cooper. Each had his share of struggles last season and while the Chiefs don't appear prepared to move Gaines immediately into one of those spots, they believe he is ready to compete for playing time.

Gaines, 23, played five seasons at Rice, including a year for a medical redshirt in 2011.

"He's very advanced," general manager John Dorsey said. "He's very competitive. He's very prideful."

It's not a coincidence that Gaines comes from a defensive system that asks its cornerbacks to play a lot of press coverage, just as the Chiefs ask their corners to do.

"We pretty much played press man all the time, so I'm really confident in it," Gaines said. "I've watched the Chiefs for plenty of years. My family is from Philadelphia, so they're huge Andy Reid fans. I've seen their whole scheme and everything, so I'm just ready to go."

The Chiefs prefer bigger cornerbacks who are better matchups against bigger receivers. One starter, Sean Smith, is 6 feet 3 and Cooper is 6-2. But Flowers is 5-9 and has trouble staying with bigger receivers. He had particular problems last year against 6-2 Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant.

Gaines is listed at 6-0, 193 pounds.

"He has all the physical dimensions of what we ask for in our corners," Dorsey said. "He's long, he's fast, he has long arms. He has 36 [passes broken up] over his career, which is a school record. He plays and tracks the deep ball well. There's still a lot of upside with him.

"I think you had to go in this direction. As we all know, you can't have enough good corners in this league. He sure adds [more] quality depth for us at that position."

Gaines missed last year's season opener against Texas A&M after what he said was a second positive test for marijuana.

"I'll never shy away from it because I did it," he said. "It's nothing to hide from. I did it and I'll own up to it for the rest of my life. Sometimes you make those mistakes and you man up and you move on. The Chiefs have believed in me and understood that I did that and they have nothing to worry about. I'm moving forward with my life. That's in the past."
videoKANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The pick: Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice

My take: The Chiefs needed some insurance at cornerback. Starter Brandon Flowers struggled at times last season and the play of Marcus Cooper as the third cornerback fell off greatly the second half of last season, so Gaines was a need pick. Gaines tested positive for marijuana and was suspended for the season opener last season against Texas A&M.

Another defensive pick: The selection of Gaines makes the Chiefs 2-for-2 in drafting defensive players. That’s not surprising given the way the Chiefs collapsed defensively over the second half of last season. The Chiefs led 38-10 in the third quarter of last season’s playoff game against Indianapolis but eventually lost 45-44.

What’s next: The Chiefs still need to address their shortcomings at wide receiver and kick returner. They had one of the least productive groups of wide receivers in the NFL last season and lost to free agency slot receiver Dexter McCluster, who doubled as a punt-return specialist. The Chiefs could also use some depth on the offensive line.